I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak, and my thoughts seems to scatter, but I think it’s about forgiveness. *
I remember how impactful these words were for me as a junior in college. I had entered Pepperdine University as a nonbeliever having spent my teenage years studying everything from Buddhism to New Age philosophy in my attempt to find the God I just knew existed. My parents were not believers. My father, a Japanese-American whose family had survived the Pearl Harbor bombing in Hawaii, and my mother, a German immigrant, did not tell me about Jesus.
But in my junior year, He opened my eyes. I saw Him. And in the passionate words uttered by Dr. Strange in the recent Marvel Comics’ movie when the Ancient One opened his eyes, my heart desperately cried out, “Teach me!” And He did.
As my eyes adapted to a new worldview where I analyzed that which I knew before against the Truth now before me, I saw traces of Him everywhere…including in a pop song. Now over a quarter of a century later, the words still move me.
I think it’s about forgiveness. *
Classical Conversations is not perfect. Neither are the lovely men and women who have devoted their time and energy to the task of educating their children together in classical, Christian Community. We misunderstand one another. We are hurt. We hurt one another.
It comforts and yet convicts me that a nonbeliever like Don Henley so clearly recognized the times in which we live and the human condition that besets us all:
These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age? *
Why is it that sometimes one small misunderstanding can drive us to our knees in frustration, hurt, or even rage? Why is the pain sometimes so powerful that it compels us to withhold grace? To lash out? To grow cold? Even against our brothers and sisters in Christ, our fellow travelers on this road called homeschooling that only a minor portion of our population even attempts.
Did you know that the latest statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education reported that less than five percent of the population homeschools in America? We are a minority. No matter our differences, we have much more in common than we do not—especially if we are Christians.
This is our family’s eighth year in Classical Conversations, our ninth as a homeschooling family. My oldest is a Challenge I student. My youngest started when she was four and will enter Challenge A next year. I have been a Foundations/Essentials Director, an Essentials Tutor, and a Support Representative. I have also been on more than one occasion frustrated, disappointed, and angry. I have struggled with guidelines. I have struggled with understanding. I have struggled with personalities. But it all truly pales against what my family and I have gained from our time in the program.
My dear friend and pastor used to say, “No matter what is done to you, YOU be the Christian,” and yet I cannot tell you how many times I have chosen to be offended or hurt instead of offering grace. I cringe at the thought of all the mental gymnastics I have performed in an effort to justify myself in light of whatever misunderstanding was laid to my account.
The truth is, I know that no matter what I think has been done to me, I am called to love and serve those with whom the Lord has placed me in my Classical Conversations community. I am called to choose not to be offended. I am called to forgive. And as much as I know that my children are receiving an excellent education, I am beginning to realize that “Christian community” just might be the most important variable in my homeschool equation, even as it is sometimes the most difficult to maintain given my fragile ego. God did not intend for us to walk this journey alone.
I have come to see that the more I fight for what I think I know at the expense of others, the less I truly understand. And if an aging pop icon can wrestle with that truth, then surely I can as well.
It should go without saying that it would be unwise to look to a pop song for theological or spiritual advice, but we shouldn’t be surprised to see glimpses of His truth in the world around us. We, humans, are all subject to the trials and sorrows that Jesus said would most assuredly come in this world, but as His children we are and have been deeply and sacrificially loved by the One who has overcome this world.
We, of all people, should be able to walk in humility knowing that the heart of the matter is and always will be forgiveness.
* Campbell, Mike; Henley, Don; Souther, D. “The Heart of the Matter.” The End of Innocence. CD. Geffen. 1989.